KABUL,(Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai is considering reshuffling his cabinet and cutting the number of ministers, officials said on Monday, after the president inaugurated his country”s first parliament in decades.
The parliament inaugurated on Monday has the right to endorse ministers chosen by Karzai, who was voted in as Afghanistan”s first directly elected president last year.
"The reshuffle would involve several ministries, including a couple of key ministries, such as the foreign affairs," a government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"The other change would be cutting down the cabinet size through mergers of ministries," he said, adding that no date had been set for the changes.
Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak confirmed the plan.
"Yes, there will be some changes," he told Reuters, without giving details.
Afghanistan currently has 27 ministries headed by a range of figures, including former members of military factions, technocrats and several women.
Many Afghans complain that ministers lack expertise and were picked for political reasons by Karzai in a bid to reconcile rival groups as Afghanistan emerges from decades of war.
The foreign minister”s post has been held for the past four years by Abdullah Abdullah, a medical doctor who was formerly a spokesman for Ahmad Shah Masood, the leader of the anti-Taliban North Alliance who was assassinated in 2001.
Karzai inaugurated Afghanistan”s first parliament since the 1970s on Monday.
Analysts say he could face problems convincing it to approve all his ministers given disappointment at his administration”s failure to improve people”s lives and carry out crucial reforms.
Tens of thousands of U.S.-led foreign troops and billions of dollars of aid have ensured relative stability and brought new prosperity to cities like Kabul, but most beneficiaries have been the already rich, while the poor struggle with soaring prices.
News of the planned reshuffle comes ahead of a major donors conference to be held in London at the end of January at which participants will want to hear Karzai”s plans for reconstruction and administrative reform before committing more funds.